British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington today urged governments to help pull the aviation industry out of a “time warp” of regulation and protectionism.
Speaking to an audience of business leaders in New York, Mr Eddington said the aviation markets have to be liberalised and modernised if the industry is to have a buoyant future.
Mr Eddington also called for the European Commission to negotiate air service agreements on behalf of all member states, starting with the all-important US agreements. The move would increase competition and facilitate consolidation of the industry in Europe, he said.
Addressing The Wings Club, Mr Eddington said:“Our industry is stuck in a time warp of regulation and protectionism, which is very odd for the very industry which makes free trade between nations a possibility. We are hardly a role model for our customers.
“If the industry is to have a buoyant future, we must find a way to modernise ourselves now…most deregulation has applied to domestic air travel within national borders, and not to international travel.
“There are some immediate steps which, if they are taken, could trigger a chain reaction that may bring change faster than we think possible at the moment. We would like to see the European Union have a single external face as well as a single internal aviation market.
“We welcome the day, which we hope is not too far away, when the Commission will represent the whole of the Union, and be mandated to negotiate on behalf of all member states. By then agreeing with other countries new arrangements that remove restrictions on routings and limits on ownership and control, the EU would open its markets to foreign competition, and facilitate the consolidation of the industry in Europe.”